The Frames – Set List
When I heard the Frames were releasing Set List, I was very sceptical, for two reasons. Firstly, would it be another horribly over-produced live album, and secondly, if not, how the hell would they capture the incredible atmosphere that is a Frames gig? Well, I was pleasantly surprised on both counts. They have kept it really simple and pure, and it’s almost as good as being there….almost!
The opening track is “Revelate”, probably the best-known Frames anthem amongst the fan base, and it does not fail to deliver. From there we drop right down to “Star Star”, with the now patented Willy Wonka interlude from Colm on violin (although sadly missing the beautiful Deus acapella ending we’ve all come to love). Next comes “Lay Me Down”, with a classic leap into Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”, and very enthusiastic crowd participation! Following up is the great “God Bless Mom”, and not the safe Trevor Horn produced studio arrangement on Dance the Devil, but the much more lo-fi, “I am the magic hand” EP version. Classic stuff. The Band now takes a break, as Glen Hansard does a brief open-mic comedy spot introducing “What Happens When the Heart Just Stops”, telling a story of a dog he knew in his school days. Funnily enough, I think I knew the dog as well! We’re straight back to beautiful music when the song begins though. The next track, “Rent Day Blues”, really captures the atmosphere of a Dublin Frames gig, with Cool and the Gangs “Celebrate good times Come On!” roaring from the crowd as usual, and some great blue grass banjo thrown in for good measure! From here we’re rocking for the next two tunes, “Pavement Tune” and “Stars are Underground”, really contrasting with the quieter songs of the set. Next on the menu is the beautifully crafted “Santa Maria”, building from an almost whispered beginning, to a huge crescendo of wailing violin and guitar. We then go into “Perfect Opening Line”, which I admit is probably my least favourite track on the album, as I feel it’s one of those rare Frames songs where the studio version is better than the live version. We’re straight back on track though with “Your Face” and “Fitzcarraldo”, two beautiful songs with great live arrangements – just reward for the hoards of Frames fans that have been there from the beginning. And so, we come to the finish, and what a finish. I had not heard the last tune, “The Blood”, before the release of “Set List”, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more perfect tune for a live encore, particularly with the crowd singing the refrain in the chorus. This is probably my favourite track on the whole album, and that’s saying a lot.
There are a few tunes I would have liked to see on this album, particularly “Seven Day Mile” and “Headlong”, and as I said above, I’m not convinced with the inclusion of “Perfect Opening Line”, but overall, this album is a real insight into a modern rarity – a band that have truly mastered the art of live performance. I have been going to Frames gigs for over ten years, and they never disappoint. They have moved to a new level of recognition in Ireland with their recent single “Fake”, and we’re all eagerly awaiting the new studio album later in the year.
Keep it up guys, it’s only going to get better